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spencerl964

Charles (Spencer) Chaplin: Cinemas Ultimate Genius!

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(*-Denotes ACADEMY AWARD victory) Most are well aware that are on here, that this is *Charlie Chaplin's-(1889-1977) turn as TCM's "Star of the Month!"-(seems kind of late, for some strange reason?) I don't believe & correct me if I am wrong. Do they get to be it's "Star of the Month," more than once? Anyway, I in general don't personally find *Chaplin hilarious? I just watch the Little Tramp in amazement instead. The Marx Bros.-(100 per cent!)/ W.C. Fields-(sadly seems to be getting more & more forgotten with each passing yr! Very frustrating, because he not only makes me laugh-(& I rarely do) But is probably the greatest movie comedian ever born in this country! The complete opposite of say, Marx Bros. He is a Genius of subtlety! & Laurel & Hardy-(the greatest comedic duo of all time in cinematic history & yes, I laugh at them as well) But, *Chaplin was & is such an artist & actor-(NOTE: Variety in 1950 voted: *Chaplin as overall greatest movie actor! They broke it down into silent era/ sound-(*Tracy was cited there) & overall, that's where *Charlie stepped in!) & as with most things there are always various favs. picks,etc & with comedy, some vote for yet another cinema genius-(A WORD THROWN AROUND FAR TOO-MUCH & ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO CINEMA)>(Buster Keaton-(1895-1966) over *Chaplin. But unlike poor Buster whom was destroyed by the Studio-System & in particular M-G-M-(L.B. Mayer was not very fond of comedy!?) So *Charlie simply outsmarted them all & built his own studio-"Dream Factory"-(amazingly still intact, considering the disrespect the town has for it's history? Now "A & M Records" & looks the same as when he filmed: "City Lights"/ "Modern Times" & "The Great Dictator" inside it's rather small location, in comparison with the majors anyway) & I know there are a lot of Harold Lloyd-(1893-1971) fans & I admire him as well. But he kinda' called it a day when the silent era ended. He did a few flix, but *Charlie stayed silent, that is until "The Great Dictator," of course in 1940>13yrs. into the sound era. One thing Mr. Lloyd did, was save his $$$ very well & had what was among the largest mansions in Beverly Hills & surrounding area.

& Buster took to drinking, more & more. Playing 2nd fiddle to the likes of Jimmy Durante & others.-(most here have seen "Sunset Blvd." & he was referred to as 1 of "The Waxworks") & another talent *Chaplin had over his contemporaries: He not only wrote, directed, starred in his films, but also scored his own movies as well-(disgustingly, his sole competitive OSCAR victory was for just that & that was 20yrs. too-late as well. 1952's "Limelight" was not permitted to be released in a Theatre in California for 20yrs. In 1972 & then he won. Don't be mistaken for the special OSCAR they gave him the previous yr. He did earn 2 acting noms. 1927-28's "The Circus"-(he deserved to win) & the forementioned 1940 timely release "The Great Dictator"-(he lost the OSCAR, but NY Film Critics Awards gave him the award, which he strangely refused?) But the real gems the lil' genius deserved the most accolades for: "City Lights"/ "Modern Times," went completely ignored by Hollywood. Some say it's because he refused to conform & speak, I don't know. More likely it was it's general ignorence of out & out comedy by the ACADEMY!? & on a final note: *Roberto Benigni for '98's "Life Is Beautiful," was compared to him & everyone including myself knew he'd win Best Actor for his comedy of sorts. However, they neglected to say, he did not also compose his own music as *Charlie did.

& many may not be aware of this, but "Smile," in addition to the beautiful score for "Limelight," was his composition, done for "City Lights" in 1931.

(P.S. What other cinephiles have seen *Richard Attenborough's 1992 bio "Chaplin?" Starring: Robert Downey, Jr. & frankly, he nailed it! & richly deserved his 1st OSCAR nomination.) Thank You

 

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Hi Spencer! I tend to agree with ya that Chaplin is more amazing than he is funny. Don't get wrong, I think he's very funny, but sometimes what's more noticeable is his brilliant artistry.

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I adore Chaplin on all artistic and entertainment levels, nuff said.

 

Downey is mesmerizing in the film biopic, but as always, Richard Attenborough flattens out an intriguing true-life story into a boring, overlong but under-researched snoozefest of belabored linearity. SO many chronological errors it's embarrassing.

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For me, Charlie Chaplin was, and still is, able to get me laughing right out loud in many of his comedies, and I've always been aware that this man was an exceptional film maker, which included writing his own musical scores once he had his own studio. The more I see, the more I become aware of! I agree that the word "genius" has become so over-used (along with the word "hero") that it no longer holds any true meaning when it's spoken, but where Chaplin is concerned, "genius" truly applies. No one...NO ONE...accomplished what he did as a film maker. I've learned that you can't watch one of Chaplin's films just once, and see everything he accomplishes! It's impossible!

 

I remember being very disappointed that Robert Downey, Jr. didn't get the Oscar for his role as Chaplin, in the movie "Chaplin" (1992). He not only did an excellent job of researching, studying, and executing the character of a very complex and difficult man, he really was up to the physical demands of the part, too. I'm not sure that anyone doing Chaplin today, would go to as much trouble, nor with as much success.

 

The movie, as might be expected, came with more than a few flaws and inaccuracies...I have yet to see a Bio. that doesn't, but the more I watch the real Chaplin, the more I learn about film making and I have by now advanced way beyond appreciating just his slapstick.

 

Thank you, Spencer, for submitting a post concerning Chaplin that wasn't focused on his 'supposed' politics, and/or sexual behaviors, neither of which had anything to do with his genius as a film maker. I know now just what I would be missing hadn't I really started to study him as a film maker and story teller.

 

ML

 

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I'm like ML in the fact that I can't think of anyone who can make me laugh out loud, and in the same breath then move me to tears, over and over and over again like Charlie. Thanks to you, Spencer, for highlighting his merits as an innovator in filmmaking-- that's what's truly amazing, when one really thinks about it, and I'm certain that is why TCM is spotlighting him this month because of those merits.

 

I took a film class last year (best semester of my life) and we studied his Mutual short "One AM"-- that means a frame, by frame, by frame analasys-- and most of the time this is what I heard from the other students: "How the hell did he do that!" The fact that a film nearly ninety years old still leaves us amazed is a definite testimony to his genius.

 

(I also think that Downey was terrific as Chaplin: you can tell he really did research his character. He even manages to smile like him! :) I know that Attenborough had all the best intentions, but the film can be rather laborious at times and doesn't quite capture how magical both Chaplin's work and the times he lived in truly were. Still, it manages to move me nearly every time I watch it, and the things Attenborough does get right make his film definitely worth watching-- in my humble opinion. ;) )

 

 

 

 

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Your right spencer! Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy are the greatest comedy duo of all time.

Also I'm slowly but surely getting into Chaplin thanks to ML.

 

Mongo

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Oh Spencer, one more thing!! You said "-"Dream Factory"-...Now "A & M Records" & looks the same as when he filmed..."

 

Just to let ya know, it used to be A&M Records, but now it's actually the Jim Henson Studios. My school is very near Hollywood and I pass by it often-- at the top of the studio front that faces La Brea ave they've got a rather large statue of Kermit the Frog wearing the little tramp costume in homage to Charlie. :) (I've been tempted on so many occasions to just park and walk up to the gate and plead with the man to let me take a tour...

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Oh,wow! "Kermit the Frog", dressed like "The Little Tramp". I'd love to see it! But, like Spencer, I think the important part about what is done with Chaplin's Studio, is that it's never torn down and replaced by a parking lot, or changed in such a way as not to be recognised as having been Chaplin's. His Studio, like so many of the sets in his films, were so influenced by his memory of childhood...in this case perhaps illustrating what he dreamed of vs. how he actually lived as a child.

 

MGM has sold off hundreds of acres of it's original movie lots, and that "History" has simply disappreared now never to be seen again.

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Yeah, the studio is the prettiest building on the avenue and you can see it here: http://www.seeingstars.com/ImagePages/HensonStudiosPhoto.shtml

 

Thankfully the LA Cultural Heritage board made it an historical cultural monument, and also thank goodness there seems to be a renewed interest here in southern california to preserve our formerly neglected history! (I can't tell you how sad it is to pass by that Safeway store on Sunset, knowing it used to be Charlie's studio apartment, or to pass this ugly shopping center on Wilshire, knowing it used to be the Brown Derby.)

 

I've been thinking lately of taking a tour at the Sony Pictures Studios-- it's a huge glass buidling and behind its gates are still some pieces of MGM's legacy (like the pretty Thalberg Building, but I hear the tour focuses on Sony/Columbia pictures and not the incredible MGM legacy.

 

Sad. Very sad.

 

 

 

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Sorry but this doesn't have much to do with what you guys are discussing but this past wednesday I saw my first Chaplin movie. I don't know why it took me so long to see one because I've seen other silents but it did. Any ways the first on I saw was "Modern Times" and it was Fantastic! I laughed so hard throughout the entire movie it was great. And as others have mentioned its amazing at how many other things he contibuted than just his acting. I also loved the way Paulette Goddard looked, she's just beautiful. After that I watched several of his shorts that TCM showed and I still thought they were good. So I'll be trying to catch the rest of the CHaplin movies TCM is showing this month and enjoy them with great pleasure. Just thought I would share, THanks

 

Pete

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Hey Pete, me too!!! "Modern Times" was my first Chaplin movie AND my first silent movie too!! Are all silent movies as well done as that one? Although it really wasn't all silent though, was it, because he did sing at the end! (oh God, that was SO funny! I don't know what the hell he was saying, but I was laughing anyway) Why did he just sing at the end and not the rest? I'm sorry if I sound totally ignorant, but I really don't know the first thing about him or silent movies!

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Most silents just have musical accompanyments(did I spell that right? oh well) and from what I understand Chaplin held out on sound as long as he could because he felt he was just as funny or funnier without which as you can see holds true

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Pete and Dizzy, how wonderful you both liked Modern Times! It is a lot of fun to watch, isn't it?

 

Dizzy, you asked why he only sang at the end? Well, even though Modern Times is essentially a silent film, it was not made during the silent era. The silent era ended around 1930 or so. "Modern Times" was released in 1936 and was therefore the last great silent film to come out of Hollywood.

 

Chaplin knew that he was a true master of the art of pantomime. When Hollywood was first starting to turn towards sound, he went against the crowd and made his silent masterpiece "City Lights" in 1931 (a must see!). By the time he began working on his next film, sound had become a Hollywood pre-requisite, and because of this standard, Chaplin did consider making "Modern Times" into a talking film. But he then scratched the idea. He knew his Tramp character was best and at his most powerful through the expression of pantomime. So instead, like he did with "City Lights," he used sound in "Modern Times" for gag effects and a beautiful score.

 

We do however get the treat at the end of hearing Chaplin's voice on film for the first time-- and isn't it interesting that even though he is talking, his performance still transcends any national or language barrier?

 

That was a gift unto him alone.

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One little bit about about that singing bit in Modern Times, which I love, is that the presumed French lyrics are not French at all. In fact, they're not words! It's pure gibberish, but Chaplin's body language gives the impression that they're not only French, but racy as well. It's all a ruse! He had you fooled, didn't he? Oh well, he fooled the restaurant patrons as well, no? :)

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From my understanding, Chaplin knew that giving a voice, even a singing voice that sang logical or correct words as we know them in "Modern Times", would totally destroy well-known image of "the little Tramp" in the eyes of the whole world who had known, loved, and related to him without a voice and words. And, yes, the pantomime had always carried him very well, but his real concern was that if "the little Tramp" was on his way out due to the advent of sound, he would go out just as he always had been...speechless and silent, so that he would always be remembered just as he was, after he was gone. I, for one, am very glad that Chaplin did this for us. ML

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You're absolutely right, ML!!

 

By singing in gibberish, he manages to remain both "silent" and perfectly understandable. In this scene he answered his critics by showing them that talking in any one language would be meaningless to all others, and found a way to let the Tramp finally "speak" and still keep his universal audience!

 

(I'm also glad he chose to do this!! ;)

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LTL: Did you receive an e-mail from me yesterday, or has it become lost in cyberspace? I wanted to let you know that I finally was able to get into your website recently, and I really liked it. Get back to me about this, please. ML

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ML: Oh my goodness... I just checked my inbox and... I have to sheepishly admit that there IS a post from you!! :( SO sorry about that! I'm reading it right now and will get back to you directly! ;)

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LTL...good 'nuf. There is one photo (among some very good ones of Chaplin) you have in your website, and I want to talk to you about it...in an e-mail (smile). ML

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Was there anyone else besides me who was admiring that close-up photo of Chaplin on TCM's main page, put there to advertise the new documentary? CC looked very attractive in that shot. I couldn't, however, figure out a timeline for the photo. Chaplin's skin still looked quite young and smooth in the shot, although his prematurely grey hair always confuses the issue of exact time.

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Well I'll tell ya orson, I know a lot of people who are kinda surprised when they see Chaplin out of his little tramp attire. I happen to love that photo as well-- I am not certain of the exact year but it was definitely from the early 1920s (probably 1920 or 1921) while he was in his early 30s before his hair went completely gray later in that decade. The style of that portrait you liked so much matches similar portraits of his during those years. (If you are interested, I've put up a new photo gallery on my website: http://www.fortheloveofcharlie.org that has many photos like the one you liked! And did you know the fella had blue eyes to boot?)

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My favorite Chaplin bit is the one where he sticks forks into the long dinner rolls and then dances them around on the table in front of him as though they were little feet.I don't think I could dislike this guy personally,if I tried to. :) Well maybe if I could if he was the one who ruined AMC...

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**death** to whoever that big wig was with the bright idea of changing AMC's programming... then again, maybe it's all for the best! If AMC had kept its former ways, I wouldn't have come over to TCM... and THAT is a scary, scary thought! (my life without Silent Sunday nights?? Oh the horror, the horror! ;)

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This is a little after-the-fact for this topic, but in regards to Chaplin?s studio located on Sunset and LaBrea in Hollywood here?s another piece of information for those wanting a glimpse inside.

 

Yes, at one time it was the headquarters for A&M Records. Back in the mid-80?s it was also the site for the recording of the song ?We Are The World?. Remember, that was the record industry?s charity effort in the cause against world hunger. The session was held overnight following the Grammy Awards and included most of the top music stars of the day.

 

Anyway, there was a companion video made to document the occasion (hosted by Jane Fonda) which provides a small look inside. By no means is it a tour of the place, and Chaplin doesn?t receive any special attention, but you may find it interesting, for what it?s worth ? which is probably about $1.99 in the used-video bins. You also may ?find it? in a box in your closet with other discarded videos.

 

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